Are the new NYC testing standards helping — or hurting — students?

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(PIX11) – Jemma Roberson’s 8th grade daughter is only half way through her summer break.

But here they are at a Kumon after school enrichment facility on the Upper West side, focusing on the next step in the family’s quest for academic excellence.

“It’s a sad state ya know, the educational system now for the kids,”Roberson told PIX11.

That was Jemma’s reaction after learning New York City scored poorly – as expected – on the new, more difficult Common Core standardized test for students in the third through eight grade.

How bad was it?

This year, 26% of the city’s students passed the English exams, compared to 47% under the older, easier test.

30% passed in math, compared to 60% under the older exam.

“Here’s some very good news, even though people haven’t written it that way yet,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

Bloomberg and company were prepared for the bad press.

To be fair, they’ve been warning parents and teachers for months the results would not look good on paper because the new test is in line with more stringent standards already in place in much of the country – and the world.

“But that doesn’t mean the kids did any worse. It’s simply a different measure” , said Bloomberg.

Mayor Bloomberg adds the city’s students are closing the gap on the state’s average math and English test scores.

But at what cost?

Jemma’s interpretation: students are suffering from an increasingly narrow focus of instruction.

“There isn’t enough help in the classroom from the teachers. It’s just here, here, and go do it and bring it back,”said Roberson.

Kumon Upper West Side manager Jennifer Kistler spends her days trying to help families deal with this new kind of “test stress.”

“One of our goals here at Kumon is we want our students to see things here, before they see them in the classroom, and all their other peers see them. So our students can go and enjoy soccer, or ballet, or a musical instrument,” Kistler told Dow.

The catch?

Taking advantage of all that Kumon and similar after school tutorial programs have to offer is not free — and takes up even more of a student’s precious time.

Jemma Roberson, who intends to sign up her daughter for Kumon’s services, says it’s unfortunate but necessary.

“That’s unfortunate because, I mean, all our kids deserve a good chance at learning and having opportunities to help them through these tests, and through the school year,” Roberson said.